Tag: ladies rugby

St Neots pipped by Ladies

After the Xmas Break it was time to return to the rugby field…

With only one training session prior to the next match this was always going to be difficult on the body. Prior to Xmas the Huns had put in a couple of decent performances against the top sides in the league and not really got what the efforts deserved, this was the return fixture from earlier in the season where Daisy had been injured and we went down quite heavily in the end which wasn’t really a true reflection, but as I always say scoreboard never lies.

Travelling to St Neots on a mildish morning with a bit of nip in the wind we had a good squad of 20 with the boost of our Uni girls still being around. We warmed up well and I thought we seemed pretty focused. The backs have been a bit of a problem with changes in personnel meaning we haven’t been consistent in this area. With Aimee away, Eleanor went into Fly half and Katie playing only her second time at outside centre we had a different look to us. With Sophie and Chloe on the wings and stonewall Lisa at fullback we were ready to start.

We started brightly in the first 5 minutes carrying well and pushing St Neots back. With the forwards Abbie, Kristie, 2 Cath’s, P, Tracey, Shania and Hannah all combining pretty well to keep possession – In fact St Neots never really came out of their half and all was looking good – we were working hard but not creating much, there seemed to be a few times we would give the ball away only to regain it to lose it again. St Neots’ No 10 was everywhere, very good at being the 2nd person into any ruck and was either turning the ball over or disrupting our flow. However, I did think she can’t do this all game as she will get tired quickly.

When St Neots did try to move the ball themselves our back line was up fast, and everyone was making their tackles and smothering any opportunities, in fact St Neots when in possession either maintained field position or went backwards. Katie and Fresh were particularly to the front with this and Eleanor was starting to look really dangerous with her elusive running. From a tiny break we managed to use the forward momentum, and with excellent support and hands from forwards and backs created the overlap that Sophie needs, and without being asked twice accelerated away to score the first try; one which our possession had deserved. Trace couldn’t quite land the conversion but still 5-0 up away from home was a great start.

St Neots’ Coach was quick to instruct his girls not to get into an arm wrestle as he felt their opportunities lay out wide moving the ball quickly and using the 10 as she was a good player. We needed to disrupt that as much as we could. With a few stoppages for injuries, mainly to St Neots girls, play continued in a similar vein the only difference was that St Neots had a better field position just inside our half. Managing to get quick ball for once and with our back line not quite as up as they should have been just gave the 10 a sniff to get up some pace and with the tackle missed for the first time they were in behind us and she finished it, with the conversion making it 7-5 to St Neots kept to them right in the game.

We came back hard and whilst still losing possession a little too often we managed to defend well enough to force the error and get scrums, getting that little bit of go forward again time for Eleanor to step up jinking her way through to find an open run to the line. With St Neots scrambling back to get to her it was too late as she crashed over to score what is her first try for us which seems incredible for such a competent player and in her 3rd season. With the conversion close but no cigar we came to the last 5 minutes of the half at 7-10 The game continued in a similar vein and you could see that St Neots forwards were tiring badly, and you could sense an opportunity; they had made a few enforced changes; the 10 had been looked at a couple of times as well – in the previous game we had the same thing happen and we didn’t capitalise, would we make the same mistake again? With half-time coming we were up by 3 and with an opportunity as the wind was behind us.

By this time Capt. Daisy was back on the field and with both Cath’s needing a break, P switched to Hooker and Clare crawling out of her sick bed at 10 am to come and play went in at second row, Hazel slotted into prop and T replaced Chloe on the wing. The scrum seemed to lose a bit of its strength and the ball was not particularly clean off the back, but Charli was doing a good job at getting it out and Dais with a couple of pick and goes was making some ground. It was St Neots that struck first with the team dropping its level a bit we came under pressure and despite some sterling defence they forced themselves over in the corner and at 12-10 it was all in the balance and it looked as though we were committing the same errors as in previous. St Neots had a boost and had a little more possession and a couple of times looked to go around us only for Lisa and specifically T on two occasions making superb tackles to keep us in the game.

St Neots had lost their front row, so we were now uncontested, this galvanised us a bit and we forced them back to their own line and with excellent maintenance of the ball and good hands and support it was Hannah who next crossed the line for us to regain the lead. Hitting the post with the conversion left the score at 12-15 and a real tit for tat game. There was 15 minutes to go and we had regained our levels but to my frustration we switched off again and with St Neots scoring again to lead at 17-15 with 10 minutes to go it looked like we were letting history repeat itself. With both Coaches “asserting” themselves about effort not being quite good enough, Chloe returned for T who had gone off injured, Kristie was back on for Hazel and we had to give it one final big effort.
By this time St Neots’ 10 had left the field and we had a lot of possession. We always talk about building phases as this will create space and with a few minutes left that’s exactly what we did with St Neots defence sucked in and some lovely passing the ball is wide to Sophie who given space will out run anybody in this league of that I am sure. From just inside their half she accelerated away to score under the posts, not realising how close to the end of the game this was at 20-17 receiving the ball from the KO in the last play it was fitting that Eleanor should catch it and boot it into touch for the win that our play has deserved for a while.

What set this out was the fact we did learn from our mistakes of the past and raised ourselves as a team when it was needed. Everybody played pretty well, and a great deal of heart and soul was bared, and the coaching team were immensely proud, and it was great to see smiling faces again.

For me Eleanor was outstanding, Katie and Fresh also close to her. Abbie has been very consistent over the last few months and Kristie is returning to her best. P just gets better and better and a special mention for Chloe, who’s game is going from strength to strength.

This weekend another chance for revenge and with Dara and Aimee returning to the fold only adds to a really strong line up.

OWTP!

Ladies vs ONs

The latest fixture for Stockwood Ladies was an important day in many ways and for lots of reasons. It was against Old Northamptonians; a long established, BIG club in the East Midlands with players representing at that level too. This was the return of the early season fixture, but this time, having drawn them in the East Mids cup, this was a double header…

Soft underfoot, bright and dry, conditions were pretty good apart from a brisk wind. This season has been a strange one for the Huns with a lot of changes disrupting things a bit, but today we had the Uni girls back in our side and a big thanks to them for making the effort to travel from Birmingham, Leeds and Plymouth to bolster the squad to our more normal 22. The pre-match warm up was pretty good, I felt everybody was focused and the pre-match talk centred around heart. We may be many things as a group but when we put our hearts on the line I believe we are a match for anybody.

From the start, ONs came fast and with their excellent 13 cutting lines we were on the back foot. Stopping them at our 5-metre line, we defended pretty well from there, counter rucking and challenging the ball. ONs were retaining the ball well and have very good handling in the back line, finally the 13 found some space to go and score in the corner: 5-0. From the restart we managed to hold onto possessions better; we were rucking well with Kristie, Abbie and Dara at the forefront, Hannah and Shania on hand to take the second phase and Claire, Tracey and Cathy keeping the possession. It was a real to and fro, with ONs occasionally turning over the ball and then Tracey doing her thing to get it back. ONs managed a couple of line breaks but getting past Eleanor and Fresh was proving difficult, to then find Lisa who provided a stonewall and on several occasions made incredible tackles to thwart the advances. Hannah made a couple of clean breaks to get us going forward, Eleanor looked like she was through only to be caught but the support was there to maintain the ball and for the next 10 minutes of the game we were camped in ONs 22. We recycled the ball well and kept challenging the line, managing to move it wide, committing players by offloading in the tackle. The final pass came from Eleanor to Sophie, who had the overlap, and cut back inside to score by the posts, only for the ref to blow for a forward pass, and for us to keep possession because of a previous offside infringement. We had the ball turned over on the line and cleared and the rest of the half petered out in the midfield.

If we our honest with ourselves, we should have levelled it up. We had the possession and the opportunity, we just didn’t take it. If we had been level at half time that would have been a fair reflection on two sides going at each other hard and not giving and inch either way. In the second half we had the wind on our backs and the setting sun behind us, could this push us towards and amazing win…The efforts of the first half were showing, Katie was changed for Charli, Shania was off, and Daisy was returning from a long lay-off with injury, but still the strength was there.

From the KO we knocked on and this gave ONs another chance to put us under early pressure, sensing that from the 22 they threw everything at it, switching directions but being met with stoic defence. Eleanor, Hannah, Abbie, Tracey, everybody pretty much putting their bodies in the way. ONs kept possession though and eventually crashed in the corner to go 10-0 up. It was the next 10 minutes which would define this game, we overturned the ball and pushed ONs back and as in the first half we laid siege to their line phase after phase of attack kept out. Daisy looked to have crashed over to be held up. From the ensuing scrum we again attacked, Hannah, Daisy and Abbie all trying to get over, Dara, Kristie and Shania also. We lost possession and ONs cleared, from the ensuing lineout we turned over the ball in midfield and attacked again. Finally go a little wider, Daisy and Hannah together to crash and score, but the whistle had gone. A yellow card was issued to ONs for deliberately fowling to stop a try, however we were only awarded a penalty. The consensus was to allow advantage as we still had possession for a score or a penalty try for deliberate offending, but we had neither. Losing possession as we tried too hard allowed ONs a little space to breathe. Their exceptional 13 found some tiny space to sprint away, managing to avoid both Sophies who valiantly tried to stop her before she could score under the posts and with the first conversion of the match, a huge moment. Instead of 10-7 it was now 17-0.

I can’t deny it was disappointing and understandably shoulders sagged a bit. The rest of the game was played with the Huns not getting enough possession and when their big forward managed to charge through and crash in the corner at 22-0 our opportunity was gone. Sophie as it turned out broke her thumb trying to stop this try and with some other adjustments, Tian was on to finish the game with Fresh dropping to fullback. ONs had one final attack and although T got her tackle in she stretched and reached for the line and with the converted score the final whistle blew.

29-0 the loss possibly not a true reflection but credit to ONS for their defence. There were two crucial periods in the game where their defence and experience was enough to see them through.

For me I hope we can gain the confidence that seems to be lacking. We have gone toe-to-toe with the 2 teams at the top of this table, and if we had taken our opportunities then there may well have been different outcomes. As a forward outfit when we are switched on nobody is better, we more than compete in this area and as a back line again we create opportunities but don’t always take them. To ONs I would like to thank their Coach for the nice words, he said that at half–time his team talk was about the potential of losing the game, and they possibly upped themselves by a small percentage to see them through, but he felt they had never been pushed as hard all year.

The returning Hannah was everywhere and deservedly got forward of the match but that shouldn’t take away the efforts of the other 7 because I thought the forwards were magnificent all day. Lisa received back of the match for the incredible performance at full back until she was injured in the second half. But Eleanor, Fresh and the 2 Sophies gave all they could, both our scrum halves did a great job and all the finishers tried their hardest.

Today turned on fine margins and I had asked everybody to put their heart on the line and I got what I asked for and couldn’t be prouder, the more we play together like this the more we will take the opportunities when they arrive, and then the results will change.

Believe Huns. Belief and brave hearts, each and every one of you!

Ladies vs Royston

Stockwood ladies travelled to The Heath at Royston in their latest league outing. Royston, who had beaten league-leaders Old Northamptonians last time out, were now joint top and using social media to let us know they were looking to settle the score from the previous meeting last season.

Our last game against Royston was the defining moment of last season, securing second place with a fantastic display of grit, determination and skill. It’s relevant to mention that from that day we have had a change of 12 players, which is a lot and makes a massive difference today. Our recent injury troubles have been well documented, whilst not wanting to dwell on it, as every side has their issues, it does feel like we’ve been hit particularly hard. We have been working very well in training, with lots of players in new positions or inexperienced players getting greater opportunities with the injury count, all in all, it’s coming together.

A new pre-match structure seems to be having a positive effect with the Huns, with the need to switch themselves on. We wanted to kick into the sun first as later in the game it would be very low. Abbie: on-pitch captain, as Daisy is long-term injured, won the toss and we got what we wanted.

Royston are always a well-drilled outfit, but they rely heavily on their 10-12 axis and their fullback, we discussed shutting them down as best we could. The forwards had worked massively on the breakdown and support play and the early skirmishes were very encouraging, as ball retention was excellent and counter rucking brilliant also. The scrum was functioning well and even the lineout was on point. We were trying a little too hard and rushing a little, and whilst on the front foot, gave Royston some possession. The aforementioned 12 pushed us back into our own half for a while. A slight criticism was that we were not coming up quick enough as a defensive unit and once 12 had got some speed up she was always making ground of offloading at the right time. Charli, Fresh and Sophie were doing a great job with a scrambling defence, and Lisa at fullback looked like a brick wall. From an attack of our own after good handling from Abbie, Dara and Claire, there was a breakdown on Royston’s 22. I then heard a call for a change, as Ally had hit the ruck with her forehand, with a golf-ball sized lump appearing, she had to come off and Lee-Anne was on.

Royston started to get a little possession, we missed a couple of tackles and found ourselves defending our own 5 metre line. No. 12 was trying to knock the door down, finally scoring and converting. At 7-0 it was a little disappointing, because we made an error and they scored. This is where these games are won and lost, and I think this disheartened us a bit. Again, after some excellent play, we managed to lose possession and once more the 12 broke the line and pushed us back again. By this time Cathy was on for Lee-Anne as she would be needed in the second half, as with Ally off, we only had one sub. With 12 scoring again and converting, at 20 minutes gone it was 14-0. We had had a lot of possession and played with excellent structure, so possibly not that reflective or our performance. Royston, however, had taken advantage of their opportunities, where we had missed a couple of ours. With a couple of minutes left of the half, Royston kicked for territory, won back possession from a knock on and scored once more. Half time score: 19-0.

The half-time discussion was around the effort and structure which had been exceptional, but we needed to defend coming forward. Royston had some strange rallying call which suggested they knew the second half wouldn’t be easy. I thought we had better forwards and should look to dominate that area. We started the second half well, with Royston only getting out of their half 2-3 times. Once, unfortunately, was for 10 to pretty much run the full length to score. From a scrum she tried to go blind, Abbie had read the move and shut it down, where she ran back the other way. With Katie getting blocked from tackling, which the ref missed, she ran through the space. She possibly could’ve been stopped twice but did enough to get herself over. At 24-0 this was a long way back. I saw something return from last year, the belief in themselves. The Huns started to grind Royston down and with wave after wave of attack and numerous penalties, it looked like we couldn’t get over. But with excellent ball retention, we finally had some space wide and through hands to Aimee who cut back inside, she forced her way over and converted her own score. 24-7 and no more than was deserved.

Once we had the ball again, we drove forward. It was clear that Royston were struggling, and we were really growing in confidence, with Dara having an exceptional game, Shania driving at the line, P and Tracey securing some awesome turnovers, we had the lions share of possession. From a scrum, Katie picked and went blind, and for all the world, Sophie looked like she was in. But Royston scrambled her out of play. Again, as the pressure built, Royston were giving away penalties in the danger zone. Fesh, Charli and Claire all being forced off the line. Somehow, Royston turned the ball over and went to pass their way out of trouble only for Sophie to intercept and score in the corner. 24-12 and definitely in control. However, this proved to be the last play of the game and albeit another loss, this was a very good performance and without 4 or 5 errors, may well have been a different outcome.

At 24-0 it could have been easy to give up, but that’s not what this group is about. In the 3 years I have been here, there are only a couple of times that you could say we have “dropped off”. It was a great game, fiercely contested and in good spirit. We are growing and coming again, with 18 fit and ready, we have our challenges but with some new players shaping up nicely, and the core staying together we are in a good place. If we continue like this, the results will come.

Katie and Charli, who rotate scrum half duties, had great games. P, Abbie, Dara, Tracey, Shania, Cathy, Cath, Lee-Anne, Claire and Ally were, as a group, awesome. Not forgetting Aimee, again in controlling form of the undeniable talent that is Fresh. Stonewall Lisa, firewoman Sophie, and of course Chloe, who whatever happens, always has a smile on her face.

Well done Park, well played!

Forward of the match: Pariese Roberts

Back of the match: Aimee Aslam

Gnome one like you: Sophie King

Ladies vs Cuffley

On Sunday the Stockwood Ladies welcomed Cuffley Ladies to the Park, another new team to the league, with the Ladies not having played them for quite some years. Following the previous loss to St Neots, the ladies and coaches felt a switch up the warm up was necessary to create a solid focus for the game ahead. The warm up looked great and everyone was switched on. The aims for this game were ultimately to enjoy ourselves, get back to playing rugby as a team and to build upon our already strong structural style; especially following the loss of so many players through injury and changing life circumstances! We had players covering new positions, with Cath S debuting at second row and Lisa moving back to full-back after a few months on the wing. 2.30pm arrived, and it was time to put all of our aims and hard work into practice…
We started well, but unfortunately conceded a try quite early on. In previous games, this could have dampened the team’s mental attitude but instead we came back with a determination to put our own stamp on this game. After the restart, the ladies found themselves solidly defending on their own try line. Tackles were being made left right and center, and we were competing at the rucks (one of the main areas of focus from the previous game). We managed to turn over the ball and hold onto possession. Using our strong forwards, Kristie and Abbie made some great runs to keep gaining the extra ground. We pushed up to their 22 in the corner, again Kristie and Abbie pushed forward. Following an excellently timed offload, Shania managed to break through and hop, skip and jump over players to score her first ever try! With Aimee having spent a lot of time practicing her kicking, it was time for her first conversion. The kick went over and the scores were equal at 7-7.
We continued to excel in our defence, with scrum half Charli tackling everything that moved, full-back Lisa stopping the last-man breakthroughs, and Katie (playing inside center for the first time) taking the opportunity to hit the breakdowns and get right in Cuffley’s faces. With the defence attempts from the whole team a step-up from previous games, it wasn’t long before the likes of Pariese managed to turn over the ball and get us the all-important possession. We began to attack but struggled to turn it into scores, with Sophie and Ellen trying to break their defence but being stopped short. Our pressure in both attack and defence forced errors upon Cuffley, resulting in penalties being awarded to us. Unfortunately, this upset Cuffley and saw sportsmanship dwindle and the ball get thrown away to stop the quick penalties. However, Stockwood ladies held true to themselves and did not drop down to the opposition’s attitude, but focused their energy into playing an enjoyable game of rugby. Just before half-time, the ladies conceded another try after some decisions not falling in their favour, With the whistle blowing, the scores stood at 14-7 to the visitors.
The second half started and despite the efforts of the ladies, looking like Cuffley were about to topple, they managed to break through and score again, the scores reading 19-7. In true Stockwood style, the ladies never gave up, but with the final plays of the game looming, Cuffley managed to score again, final score: 26-7. As usual, “the score didn’t reflect the game”, however, on this day, it truly didn’t. The ladies had a different attitude and came together as a team. They displayed some excellent skill and determination, but just couldn’t turn it into a win. We have moved leagues this year and with 3 or 4 teams being relegated from a higher level, the league is a lot more competitive. We have been as good as every team we have faced, but just scuppered on the crucial moments. We look forward to regrouping at training, with 6 sessions before our next game away to Royston. We look to continue our efforts and coming back together as a team, something that has taken precedent after a lot of personnel change. A massive congratulations to all of the ladies on Sunday, a well fought game that just didn’t go our way.
• Forward(s) of the match: Catherine Swindell and Shania Mulvihill
• Back of the match: Lisa Morris
• Gnome one like you: Charli Bligh

Ladies vs St Neots

On Sunday the Park saw the visit of St Neots; a team we hadn’t played previously and an unknown quantity. This was the 3rd fixture of the season after a brave loss at early pacesetters Old Northamptonians, and a chance to get back on track.
It’s worth mentioning that at this point since last year’s campaign Park have lost 10 players to injury/pregnancy and university. This is a large number and can affect any team, but here we are with a squad of 22 for matchday: an exceptional statistic that we must be rightly proud of. With league debuts in certain positions, we talked about starting with intensity and defending going forward. On a much better day than forecast, we are set and away we go.

Early exchanges looked good and we hit the breakdown hard and won the ball convincingly, with Katie shifting the ball quickly to Aimee at 10 she was looking to release Debs and Fresh and ultimately Ellen and Chloe. St Neots were up enough to disrupt the flow, just about stopping 2 or 3 really promising breaks, to be honest, we should have scored in that first 10 minutes or so. From deep in their own half and under pressure, St Neots’ 15 found some space, with 2 or 3 missed tackles, she found herself clear. Kim did enough to slow her down but she had the support and St Neots were first to score, with the conversion made 7-0 after 12 minutes and a little against the run of play. Swapping a few things around, Charli was on for Katie who’s 10k run was taking its toll, she harried and chased and pushed us forward and we all started to defend on the front foot, putting on the pressure really started to tell as St Neots starting making errors. This galvanized us a bit and we pushed St Neots back and with the forwards working hard, pretty much the rest of the half was stationed in St Neots’ territory. From a penalty we had several attempts at getting over the line, only to be thwarted or make the wrong decision. Finally, Abbie cutting a line back in, managed to crash over and get Park on the board, and at 20 minutes the score was 5-7.

We began to push a bit more with Debs and Fresh running hard at their back line, St Neots never backed off but it was at this point they looked to be getting very tired and this was our opportunity, but we never took it. The 10, 12-15 axis was their strength and we were giving them too much time, as perhaps, we were tiring ourselves. Again, from another deep position, the 9 managed to get free and run full length and score. At 5-12 things weren’t going quite right, they had had 2 attacks and scored, but we were camped in their half but couldn’t work the space. Credit to St Neots for their defence, albeit they got away with playing the ball on the floor rather a lot.

From a penalty, Daisy took the ball in, with four players on her she went down and heard the infamous ‘pop’ of a knee, an ambulance was called due to not knowing if there was another injury too. Fortunately there is nothing broken but the full diagnosis is not yet known. The referee called half time 5 minutes early and we moved pitches. It’s never easy when a team mate gets hurt as your mind is with them, but we did start the second half where we had left off, and, under pressure, St Neots were panicking a bit. We managed to move the ball to Debs who twisted and turned to dive over, with Tracey converting, the scores were tied.
At 12-12 the feeling was of dominance as we continued to have pressure, but all of a sudden there was a collective drop in intensity, this lead to St Neots being allowed to play a bit, we were almost immediately punished, with another score close behind leaving the score at 12-26 – we needed to reassert ourselves quickly. Some 50-50s went against us, and for the second time we seemed to lack something in the last 15 minutes, especially after another score was awarded even though the line judge flagged for a foot in touch.
I don’t like saying it as it is not a true reflection of the Ladies, but perhaps with the Captain’s injury playing on minds, we seemed to have no energy left. With another score, at 12-26 the game was gone. However, we were to have the final say and returning to domination. Fresh forced her way over for a thoroughly deserved try, as the last play of the day, it was a 17-36 loss.

There were huge positives from some of the structure and play, I could point at something positive for every player. We just switched off as a unit, falling off tackles; which proves vital in a far more competitive league than last year. Although we have lost players, we are re-inventing ourselves which Steve, Gary and I are confident in. We have a small break before the next game (20th October), so plenty of time to put things right.

Forward of the match: Pariese Roberts
Back(s) of the match: Aimee Aslam and Faye Anderson
Gnome one like you: Ellen Walsh

Ladies vs Royston

So here we are last game of what has been a truly remarkable season  … Park were travelling to Royston for a game that was to prove a Landmark for the Huns and the 18 mths of sheer hard work and commitment.

On this Sunny Sunday on the windy Therfield Heath … we were to play Royston a team that put us to the sword early in the season albeit with an ex professional having a huge say that day …. Still whoever won today could finish second providing Hitchin beat Haringey by a large score …

Clearly though having already lost to them this season and playing away this was not to be easy .. with 2 Bad injuries picked up in training to Amy and Faye who have been regulars all season and with a few girls having other thing on it’s a measure of this group of powerful women that we still had a full squad to travel with …… this is awesome I cannot explain it any other way.

Having prepared a small speech prior to the start ,there was a good atmosphere and we had warmed up nicely .. I delivered the request to MAKE IT COUNT … every pass , every tackle … give your heart and soul , if you get knocked down get back up .   if you feel pain tell yourself you’re not in pain .. if they are tough be tougher …… Make TODAY COUNT…  .. .

Well from the kick off Sophie King collects and runs from her own 22 to be caught out on the line in Royston’s 22 and from here for the next 15- mins the game doesn’t move .. with the forwards P ,Abbie and Emma ,Cath and Shania all putting in a shift,  Daisy from 8  and Hannah Thomas who was outstanding all day setting great platforms but we just were perhaps trying too hard and not taking some very good opportunities to move the ball wide where we are really dangerous.

We had been knocking on the door now for some time and whilst Roystons defence was resolute it was narrow and we just needed to move it … finally realizing this we put a good phase together and the ball goes out to the backs with good hands finally creating the space

For Sophie King to score out wide… This was no more than we deserved but  we had taken a lot out of ourselves with Ellen and Fresh having put themselves about the fullback was also having a good game stopping them both after clean breaks …

Royston have had a good season and they have a good set of forwards who play a certain way specifically their no 8 who was always a threat .. we had dropped off a bit and Royston sensed the opportunity ..however they were suffering from a similar fate to us … I think if they had moved the ball

Wide quicker we might have had some problems but the Stockwood stone wall stood firm and apart from once when they crashed over in the corner only to be held up … with a few minutes to go to halftime we managed to exit our 22 and with great hands Emma was through only to react to a call to pass and whilst Hannah was there in support she didn’t really expect the pass and knocked it on… by this time Debbie and Freya were on P and Lee-Anne taking a rest ….

The forwards managed to create one more platform and the ball was moved quickly and with space Sophie M is so dangerous and accelerated away to score under the posts .. with Tracey converting it was 12-0 and no more than we deserved for the incredible defensive display of the previous 10 mins .

Half time and chance to regroup .. nothing is finished at half time ..but we had put a real shift in and with few options in the forwards to freshen up they were going to need to roll up their sleeves and dig in .. We did decide however to move Trace back into her traditional flanker role Sophie K to fly half and Kimberley into outside center .. and we go again ….

Royston hit hard early clearly trying to get back into the game and despite some solid tackling their impressive East Midlands player forced her way through  and despite some last ditch defence  crashed over with 2  Huns on her back .. in fairness no more than she deserved as she had kept them in the game .

With a very good conversion being made this was now interesting   12-7 ….

Asking for another 10 percent .. Ellen had now been replaced with Amber  and Ellen had been fantastic especially playing with her toe nail half off ….really gritty and Charlie for Katie … with Daisy off as well time to stand up Ladies …. Fresh decided it was time for her to put a mark on this game as we seized to wrestle the advantage back .. and only she seems to find these small gaps to burst through and so she did scoring under the posts for Tracey to convert and at 19-7 a 2 score difference …

However Royston weren’t finished and from a slight lack of concentration a quick penalty was taken they got some go forward from  yes you guessed it their very good 8, they then managed to pass it out and their winger who had very little to do finished well in the corner for an instant reply and at 19-12 with 20 minutes to go it was anybody’s game …. Making a switch pulling Debs out to outside center and P back on at Flanker it was now the moments we had asked for the hearts on the line that extra 10% from somewhere …. We have been unbeaten since Xmas and I had put that down to a MENTAL strength as a unit that I don’t see in other teams .. we are never beaten and always play to the final whistle ,only the league winners match us in this respect and as the 2 very close games against them proved …. I just felt it would be ok and this final 15 minutes was perfect as first Debs brushing people aside gets us into a good position ..eventually though the pressure was too much and with some lovely hands and support work it goes wide and Sophie ..who still had a lot to do finished in style cutting back inside beating 3 defenders to score her second of the day …This seemed to be too much for Royston now as we really started to play some good rugby and with Hannah looking to have nearly scored on 3 occasions to be pushed back the ball was re-cycled and Debs crashed over from Center  at 29-12 and with 3 minutes to play ..Royston had one last go but the Parks Stone wall stood firm and that’s how it finished ….

With the news coming through that Hitchin had beaten Haringey by 83-7 .. this was truly remarkable turnaround .. Haringey were second and unbeaten   when we played them just before Xmas … we truly believed we should have won that game and didn’t and with the terrific performance against Hitchin which a lot of people felt if we didn’t just pip them a draw would have been a fairer result..gave us the belief that we were a match for anybody.  All we could do was win our games and see what happened .. Haringey lost 4 of their last 5 we won all ours and ended up points the same .. however the points difference was in our favour and so 2nd PLACE ….

I have run out of adjectives to describe how we have played … 18 mths ago we started to play in a Division which had experienced Teams playing we have in that time gone from having big points to nil losses to finishing Runners UP it is INCREDIBLE

Ladies vs Kilburn Cosmos

So on the complete opposite of a day to our previous run out we set off for Kilburn Cosmos.. a team we always enjoy visiting a truly lovely bunch who give everything on the field and are great hosts after .
The Great News is that Kilburn have been successful with their recruitment drive and had a squad of 17 for the first time in ages and they were really looking forward to playing a “proper “ game of Rugby

We have had a tremendous commitment again this season and with 21 on the traditional Coach journey all was set .

Now with one of our greatest supporters celebrating her 60th Birthday the previous eve .. .I was worried about what condition we would all be in ..but they were all there and on time and in good spirit so no worries …

With the wind and the drizzle pretty much set it was a little cooler than the mid summers day of the previous Sunday ..but not bad conditions for the game .

We kicked off and it was clear the energy levels weren’t quite where we wanted them to be ..whilst we played pretty much the first 20 minutes in Kilburn’s half … Kilburn had a lot of the ball … but our defence was pretty good and they were going nowhere despite having possession … Debs made a couple of Breaks , Daisy and Abbie were trying but things weren’t quite coming off and we weren’t using the backs and as previously mentioned energy levels were low we were a bit passive …just not functioning quite right …. Finally moving the ball quickly Debs and Sophie combined to put Sophie M away and she finished under the posts 5-0… So it was clear we needed to create a platform move the ball wide and both Ellen and Sophie would be too quick … Having been a bit grumpy about what I was watching, for the next 15 mins or so we dominated and whilst not firing on all cylinders it was much better .. Sophie K made a great break to score and Sophie M scored twice more with Tracey converting 2 out of the 3 suddenly we were 24-0 up .
With P having a good influence when she came on .. and Ally and Chloe getting a run out it was good that the whole squad was being used … Red had a bit of a knock so Sophie K dropped to Fullback and Kimberly also came on and with Daisy also needing a break pretty much the whole squad was on …
The last 2 mins of the Half Kilburn managed to get inside our 5 metre line and despite repelling wave after wave of attack .. with Lee-Anne sin binned for penalty top -up .. Kilburn finally broke the resistance and scored a deserved try for their efforts .. although not really threatening they had played some good rugby in the first half. Despite leading 24-7 at half time its a measure of our expectation levels that we knew we could play better and with a change at scrum half with Charlie being replaced by Claire ..Charlie had had a pretty good game in fairness .. with Sophie M and Ellen taking a break it was Cath Swindell to come on to get all 21 good game time …

Playing with 14 for the first 7 mins of the second half we just picked the energy up a bit … with a few decisions going against Amy which wound her up a bit and that had the effect of some big hits going in putting us on the front fit and with Sophie K joining the line from fullback to score in the corner despite 3 Kilburn players trying to stop her it was a positive start to the second half .. from then on however it returned a bit to the pattern of the first half although possession stats were more 50-50 .. the game was played entirely in Kilburn’s 22 .. they never really threatened despite a lot of hard work … the good thing for us was that our inexperienced players Ally , Chloe , Cath Swindell , Kimberley ,Charlie and Claire …. got some pretty decent game time and all stood up to make their tackles and be generally in the right place … with Daisy returning and making some good yardage .. we still seemed reticent to move the ball wide but with 5 mins or so to go Daisy crashed over with 3 or 4 hanging on for the final score in the corner and at 34-7 complete what appears a comfortable win …. I wouldn’t describe it as that because Kilburn never give up and will become harder to play if they can keep the squad together.

However for us its now 4 wins on the bounce scoring 129 pts and conceding just 31 …. since Christmas apart from Hitchin who have won every game our form would put us second in the League and indeed having despatched the 2nd placed team last week ..its clear our huge improvement has now given us some consistency at a decent level .. and its a sign, whilst the coach was a bit moany … even after a heavy night the mental strength was there to get the job done

2 Games left this season … Home to Tabard and away to Royston .. if we win both of those then we can finish second if other results go our way … if we win both the games we can finish 3rd … however we have lost to both these teams this season so its no easy task ….. but you know what … I believe you can do it …….c’mon the Park

Match Report: Ladies vs Haringey

Stockwood Ladies entertained Haringey in the latest league game on what was a really hot Sunday afternoon in February ….

Park have been excellent since the turn of the year and especially against the top teams starting to show some real quality .

Haringey are second in the League and Park are chasing them down and today would be key if we were going to achieve this .

With London Road starting to become a fortress Park started with real intensity and in those first 10 minutes set the platform , with the forwards working really hard Fran getting her hands on the ball a lot on the fringes ,Shania getting to every breakdown first and with the terrible twosome of Abbie and Amy terrorising Haringeys forwards, Park were getting plenty of the ball . Losing possession in Haringeys 22 the oppos 10 kicked to clear her lines … with Annie sitting deep at fullback she ran on to the ball it bounced kindly straight into her hands ..and like an arrow she set off down the line , nobody got anywhere near to her and she ran under the posts for the first score and with Tracey converting 7-0 and deserved … .

Haringey are not second in the league by chance .. they raised themselves and attacked with pick and go on the fringes only to be met with great defence from Lee-Anne and Fay .. stand in Captain Daisy was making ground in counter and Haringey were struggling to get clean ball.

Park had got themselves into a bit of an arm wrestle and perhaps on occasions didn’t release the ball out wide to the dangerous Sophieees ..ie there was 2 of them … but the off loading in contact was excellent and the clean breaks started to appear and the support play was excellent .. Fran , Abbie , P ..Sophie K .. all made clean breaks and looked to have scored only for Haringey to scramble back and hold the ball up over the line … by this time Debs was having an impact and when we didn’t have the ball the tackling from Park was excellent Kimberley and Sophie K particularly standing out.. Finally Park got the second break through when P was caught yds short of the line but Kimberley was there in support to finish it off and score her first try for the club.

At Half time it was 12-0 ..but credit to Haringey as they defensively kept themselves in the game without threatening too much in attack.

In the second half the big Park squad started to bear fruit as the finishers cane on to do just that and with the offloading and support play being exceptional Park started to run away with it scores from Amy ( whole squad maul driven over the line) Claire at scrum half ..league debut … Fresh , Sophie on the wing and Finally Amber who finished off a sweeping move that took us from our own 22 to score under the posts and with Tracey Converting 3 of the tries a truly superb performance by everybody …. Haringey never gave up and in between the last 2 scores recorded a consolation of their own … final score 43-5 to Park and a real statement of intent ..

We have come so far in 18mths and I have said it many times but we now can see a real strength in depth of squad … with the Captain and previous Captain away ,Hannah on East Midlands Duty and regular wing Ellen ill …. We are in a good place …… all down to you girls remember that …

Next week Kilburn … lets keep it going …. Truly magnificent

Ladies v Hampstead Ladies

On a nigh on perfect day for Rugby .. soft underfoot and not to cold or to hot … the New Year started with a bang at London Road .

Stockwoods Ladies were entertaining Hampstead in the return fixture in what is the Business end of the season …. Having defeated Hampstead by a final second try earlier in the season they were here for revenge.

Park had been playing really well just before Xmas and it was feared that perhaps the break might stop that momentum now we were going to see.

The early exchanges were fierce and Parks scrum was put under pressure but with Amy and Abbie ,Freya and P .. tackling and counter rucking despite not having much possession we were keeping Hampstead at bay …

Both teams were playing with a good structure clearly this was going to be a tough game with two evenly matched sides and it was Hampstead that struck the first blow ,having won possession in our 22 we were just starting to exert pressure of our own when Hampstead intercepted a pass and ran in to score under the posts ..with the conversion made after 10 mins it was 0-7 …

Parks response was swift winning the ball creating a platform finally managing to go through hands out to Sophie on the wing to run past 3 or 4 Hampstead players to score also under the posts .. to tie the scores up …

Katie our normal Captain and scrum half was injured and Daisy had taken up the reigns of Captain for the day with Sophie King playing at scrum half for the first time ever and her first full game for a year or so these 2 in particular were having influential games.

Hampstead however continued with their intensity and after a kick over the top Annie collected and retuned to be met by Hampsteads impressive and solid 12 who hit her hard in the tackle … Annie had to be replaced .. Lisa for the second match in a row dropped to fullback duties and the returning Debs came on at outside Centre … Sophie (winger) also had to have a break as a dead leg meant she was suffering a bit. Chloe replaced her on the wing.

The squad was being tested .. with the terrible twosome ably supported by Emma and now Lee-anne and Hannah – Park were starting to get some ascendancy .

Hampstead were still dangerous though and the 9 and 12 combined to create an overload .. Ellen was about to tackle the Hampstead player when she accidentally collided with Cath … and this left a 2 on 1 with Lisa and a dummy pass from the Hampstead girl sent her over under the posts again to go 14-7 up ..

We talked about needing another 10% if possible ..we were starting to get more possession in the forwards and Debs was getting line breaks and Daisy made several forages forward needing 4 or 5 of the opposition to stop her .

We were putting some phases together … from a penalty 5 mtrs out first Abbie then Amy then Daisy all tried to break the line ..the good thing was we kept the ball alive and recycled brilliantly … finally Tracey dived for the line to score as the ref had somehow tripped over and whilst doing a magnificent summersault still blew his whistle for the score … quite impressive … missing the conversion it was 12-14 with 6 mins or so to go to half time …

At half-time we talked about being patient as we were now getting more and more possession and they were starting to drop back off our intensity .. keep playing don’t panic game isn’t won at half-time … with Sophie (winger) returning to the fold pretty much everybody had been involved .. Ally was still due a run out …with Annie not being able to return there was a good chance she might be needed. Anyway, we made a couple of handling errors early and found ourselves defending again but managed to snuff anything out without too much difficulty ..we started to get some real go forward and with some good hands from Tracey , Fresh and Debs put Sophie away once more and she finished it well as she still had some work to do .. in the corner.

With our noses in front 17-14 .. we started to dominate the game a bit more with Freya returning our SQUAD was really making a difference especially as Hampstead started to lose some ….. however they were not giving up and possibly one of the moments of the game when from good field position Hampsteads 12 darted for the line getting past 2 defenders ….I didn’t see who did tackle her as she dived to score but whoever it was did enough to dislodge the ball from her grasp and she knocked on …. From this moment on Park pushed Hampstead back and from a break from Daisy the offloads kept the ball

Alive pretty much everybody at some stage offloaded FAY , P , Fresh and with Debs crashing onto it at the end to score was a truly sensational score … at 22-14 this gave us some breathing space … We really did dominate possession from here Sophie and Ellen looked like they had combined to score again but some desperate defending kept us out …

However we were not to be denied another score and with another great team move Fresh found the space she always does and slid through under the posts and with the conversion being made 29-14 … with Sophie King needing a break … Ally got to run out albeit 6 mins or so and Chloe with her textbook set back from a tackle ..made sure that all the squad got some minutes …

The most impressive thing about this result is the growing mental strength of these girls and the patience to trust in their skill set to see them through … we didn’t look panicked or stressed at any stage there was a clear inside belief we can win this game whatever they throw at us and so this proved …..

Home again next week … Oh when the Park !!

Defence work
Good forward work and then sooooooo close!
good attempt at break out play
try!
try!
try!
try!
and for good measure!

Ladies go down to Marlow

This Sunday saw the Ladies of Stockwood Park begin their first major League campaign against the Ladies of Marlow .. who would no doubt be a well drilled side having had more experience and time together.
Buoyed by the last performance there was a lot of anticipation and having 16 available we already had a point before we started …. Unfortunately Marlow had only 12 so we had to play 12 aside.. .However with the subs situation we hoped it would help us as the game went on.
We started well with Aimee coming in at 10 and Sophie moving out to Inside Centre and with Eleanor and Ellen outside her this was as strong a back line as we could put out … with the space on the pitch this looked like an advantage, as the game went into 10 mins having had to defend for a period we finally managed to release the backs from our own 5 metre line what followed was a brilliant try with support and pace and no little skill with the ball changing hands 3 or 4 times for Aimee to finally touch down .. what was her first try in a match ….and what a fantastic start to the League Campaign ..

Marlow reacted strongly and had a very elusive 10 of their own who has obviously played a lot of Rugby and potentially at a higher level because she started pulling strings and running the game … Marlow attacked down the blind side and were thwarted a couple of times by super Trace .. playing at fullback for the first time … but eventually their possession told and equalised in the corner … It was here that we showed our lack of experience against their 10 who again attacked at the blind twice more to score and with one conversion and a further score on the other side the wind was taken out of our sails a bit. Really we should have been able to spot what they were going to do and counter –act it.
Eleanor was trying her hardest and her tackle count was mounting .. .we were a little disappointing in the forwards not reaching the levels of the previous game and getting over the ball quickly enough to give us the momentum and possession we changed it about a bit with Cath and Fay coming on and making a little bit of a difference .. Katie ended up being in the maul to often and Eleanor, because she was tackling ,so left the backline a little disjointed.

These things happen in the heat of battle .. and as we play more games this will happen less and less .. The second half we gave very little in attack and when we did have the opportunity we made poor choices and lost possession when a chance to score was there … with the unfortunate injury to Sophie putting a real dampner on the day .. and as of writing I don’t know how she is and I know we all wish her well and I would like to add how unfair these things are sometimes as she was becoming a very good player in a quick time .. I just hope it was nothing serious … I felt we lost our intensity a bit … nobody gave up everybody kept trying .. but we weren’t quick enough in line speed and a bit passive at the breakdown .. with the lineout misfiring as well we just couldn’t get enough possession to let Ellen and Eleanor attack as we know they can.
So first game is a loss but that is irrelevant we are progressing there are so many positives .. a squad of sufficient numbers with other players to come back , Amy ,Shania making solid debuts ..Eleanor, Sophie ,Aimee and Ellen showing real intent in attack .. Tracey playing a strange role for her and doing a great job .. Katie all over the game and organising as best she can Fran and Danii forming a good partnership .. Ally getting better every time she plays …. and solid performances from Cath and Fay off the bench …

The good news is you were all disappointed and that is a really good sign for the journey we are on … hold tight ladies it will come good in the end.

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